Iosepa Canoe Interview
Interviewee: Lono Logan
6/1/2003 - Hukilau Beach, Laie, Oahu, Hawaii
Please state your name and what community you're from?
My name is Lono Logan. My hometown is Laie.
What did you think when you first heard that the university was going to be building a journey canoe?
I thought it was about time. I just felt like it was time already to have a program like that. I'm from this community and I come from a family of fishermen. I don't particularly fish myself but my grandfather, his name was Jubilee Ma'ala Logan, and he was one of the great fishermen of this area with net fishing like Hukilau, surrounding net. He was one of the great fishermen to come out of this area. His uncle was also a great fisherman. I surf so I have a definitely a good close relationship, I would say, with the ocean. If we weren't here today, I would be surfing, even though it looks flat. It's just something about the ocean. So when I heard that the canoe was going to be built in our community I thought it was going to be awesome because there will be opportunities for us to learn about ourselves, about our extended families and our ancestors. It's just that kind of combination of working with our elders, the present and then you see the little children coming up. And so that's the first thing and it sounds long but that's what I thought.
Did you not have those opportunities when you were growing up?
Well, not on this grand scale. We do have local fishermen. There are a couple of people that have one man, maybe even canoes, such as outriggers, but not on this scale, a big canoe, locally here in this community.
Did you feel information on your culture, the land, and the sea was being passed down fully before you were an adult?
Well, I think our culture and other cultures, there's a lot of things; you can't pinpoint on one thing, there's many angles to it. A canoe is just one angle. It's a very essential role but it's just one aspect of the culture, and through that it'll open up the door of wealth of knowledge and whatnot and this is the first time that I've ever been a part of something this grand.
Have others in your community felt like this?
When you've seen just a handful of people, there's way more people that I'm sure feel so deeply that it's hard for them to even express their feelings. I've talked to older uncles and aunties and when I tell them “uncle, aunty, you guys got to come down to the canoe and check it out and come and offer whatever,” they don't say anything but the tears come down. And that says it all, and so it's heavy duty.
How has it been to work side by side with students from BYU?
It's been awesome; for one thing, BYU is a melting pot of all these different cultures. Before the canoe came, there were programs there that allowed everybody to learn from each other. I think the canoe will just do the same but it's just something that's different. Probably a lot of people may never have seen a canoe that big and so I think it'll just add and then for others it will kick it up another notch.
Some of the students have stated that they really weren't totally in touch with their culture prior to starting on this project and they feel like they've grown. Have you observed that growth in the students?
I would say yes and I would include myself. I come from a family that's been quite oriented with the water and even when I was really young, I always had these feelings inside but I guess you could say that through the canoe and especially when we started with the Makali'i, they help by jumping in and getting in and learning how to tie ropes and stuff. Besides scouts, it was the first time I actually got in there and did it. And so through the canoe, myself included with the students, community members, and everyone else, I've seen them come alive. You see a sign that maybe you normally don't see every day. I know for me it's answered a lot of questions that I might have had and felt strong feelings. Then we go out and train on the canoe. We listen to the elders talk about stories and you feel something, you go, ah! Through the process of learning, watching and then actually doing, you get a confirmation I guess is what I'm trying to say. So I know personally for me it's been, yeah, I think you can say that it's been a personal growth experience. If you'd met me two years ago and then you met me now, I think you would definitely say there's been personal growth; not so much has changed, me personally, I don't think it's so much that it changed my life but I think it's helped me realize—its like when you have a lens and it's a little bit dirty and you use that to the best of your ability but once you wipe it off, it is more clear. So the potential to use it better becomes greater because now you, more or less, can identify what you are seeing, oh, that is a tree. Whereas when it's blurred it just looks like maybe a stick or something, a telephone pole. But when it's clear enough and you have people to guide you, with the feelings you have, it's reassured--now that's a tree! And it's not like you're trying to figure it out on your own. So with the canoe it helps, for me, it has helped to clarify my lens.
How are you going to use this in the future? How will you apply what you know now about yourself and the skills you're learning here to your life?
I think I already have. When we first went to the first training in Makali'i, the things that they taught us was not anything really new, quite practical. They were the basic principles, do good unto others and you want them to do good onto you. The canoe is somewhat the same thing, everybody on that canoe is like Cap always tells us, the canoe is your island, and once you leave the land, which is so sacred; it's like family, yeah? So you're totally dependent on each other, you're totally dependent and there is trust and love, like a family. So even though you might have some differences, you put them aside and you concentrate on the purpose. Let's say if you're going to go and circle the island of Tahiti, that's the goal, everybody has come to the table with that same mentality; you're totally relying on that. So I think those are the kind of principles we're trying to achieve in life and trying to perpetuate; trying to hook up with the same people and I think that's what the promise we have into the world, because everybody's not taking care of each other. So I think the canoe is good transportation, if you will, like a springboard to get us to where we're going. I surf in the ocean, so I'm a little bit familiar with this area because it's where I grew up. So I'm familiar with the channels and the currents but I was able to, I don't know, clarify more with the things I went through with training and the things I've learned from Iosepa. I'm continuously learning. It's endless I think. I don't think you can ever get to a point where you're okay, I'm there. I just kick back and I have nothing to learn, that's what I think. I think that you are just constantly kicking off, open frame of mind and you can always learn from other people, you're like a family again; the canoe is limited, you look at the limited space you have and it teaches you to have self-discipline, self-mastery maybe within yourself, but there will also be weaknesses or struggles. I don't know. It's a funny thing, life. It's like family, you can't live with them and you can't live without them. I don't know how to explain that relationship. It's just necessary that when everybody's together, you just can't break that bond, there's a love and kind of a bond that, it's just so tight you can't even really describe it. You know that what you're feeling counts, you feel safe and that encourages you to reach out, and so I definitely know that through this process of Iosepa, it has encouraged me to be more loving, to be more kind, and to try to learn from somebody else. I don't know how many years of experience sails on the Iosepa, but you can use all the experience you can get. Everybody always has something to bring that can be used, I think it's just the timing of knowing when to incorporate this or that person.
Are you going on the maiden voyage?
If I can get off work I'll be honored. If it's meant to be, but when I look at this project when I first started to come to the Iosepa from where we were building the Iosepa. I never had that intention to say, “Okay, I've been here from day one so I expect to be on the first voyage,” it's not my place to make that decision. Sure, I would like to be a part of it but I don't know if it's my ethics or whatnot but I kind of feel it's not my right to make that decision and maybe I'm trusting in whoever will make that decision will know, they'll know who should be there, and say I'm not chosen to be a crew member, then it's fine, too. I can walk away today and feel like a better person than I did when I first started and when I first got involved a few years ago. It definitely has improved the quality of my life; I guess is what I want to say.
Could you say that of the community, too, that it has made it a better community?
Oh, definitely. You know when we had that first launch that was the most people that I had ever seen that I can remember. When you're young, a hundred people look like a lot but I think there was close to 7,000 people, five to 7,000 people. I had never seen that many people that had come out for a function. A whole beach was covered with people and there was another new feeling I had inside, it was like, “oh, my goodness, I can't believe that I'm having the opportunity to be a part of it.” At the same time I felt like I'm not sure, even for myself, why am I in the thick of it. I've always looked on the outside and I'll do the best I can to support it but here I am, I'm right in thick, of it.
Speaking of supporting, was it a worthwhile experience?
Oh, definitely, I definitely think its worthwhile investment. You know the university incorporates the community and so does Iosepa. It's not a selfish kind of approach. It's not me, me, me; it's a we situation, like a family unit. On the canoe you have the captain, he's the voice you listen to, but it's not only he or she that makes the completeness of the canoe, it's the crewmembers. So when I look at the university, that's one aspect of education and the kind of education in classes and whatnot but when that's combined and incorporated with other projects like for example, the Iosepa, I definitely think it improves the university.
What would you think about the Kellogg Foundation and its investment in Iosepa? What would be the one message you'd like to deliver back?
Well, first of all it's just an honor that they would take the time and financial support and the will, I think, to support a project like this. They have come out, you're coming out. People can tell when there is truth and there is, for all the good reasons to invest and you might not say anything, if it's there or not, if someone's deceiving you, let's say, but you can tell, and you would not be here if it wasn't so. So what I would like to say is thank you. Thank you for following your instincts or your heart. I just hope we don't disappoint each other.